First Hand: Pietro Calvi

Pietro Calvi.jpg

Pietro Calvi, Othello (ca. 1873), marble and bronze, 34-5/8 x 22-1/16 x 22-13/16″; courtesy of The Walters Art Museum

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Those who decry Orientalism will have a tough time of it with Pietro Calvi’s Othello. Calvi brings to the piece a gravity befitting Shakepeare’s Moor and does so without a scintilla of cultural or racial condescension. The juxtaposition of black and white marble may give pause in our hyper-sensitive times, but its formal audacity brings along with it a humanism that is all the more welcome for its nuance and rarity.

© 2019 Mario Naves

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